January 17, 2017
Question: Can you comment on the ruling passed by the European Court of Human Rights in the Case of A.H. and Others v. Russia related to the Russian ban on the adoption of Russian children by US nationals?
Konstantin Dolgov: I would like to remind you that the Federal Law On Measures to Influence Persons Involved in Violations of the Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation of December 28, 2012 No. 272-FZ, known as the Dima Yakovlev Law, was approved as a logical and legitimate response by the Russian authorities to US nationals’ massive gross violations of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of underage Russians adopted by US families.
There is a lot of evidence to the effect that Russian children were exposed to torture and cruel and inhuman treatment in adoptive US families, something that often led to lethal outcomes. Court actions in cases of beatings or killing of Russian minors in the United States carried formal prison terms but occasionally the culprits were released from custody in court.
Even the US Department of State recorded cases of negligence that led to Russian children being deprived of their rights. But the State Department remained silent in response to our appeals for assistance. Under Barack Obama, this agency was taking what was generally an extremely passive, if not destructive, stance on these child cases. We did not see any willingness or ability on the part of the US authorities to take the necessary measures to hand down just punishments to those guilty or prevent these situations from recurring in the future. And this was the main motive behind approving the fully justified adoption ban. We still see absolutely no reasons for adjusting or repealing it.
And now back to the ECHR ruling you mentioned. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that under Article 71 of the Russian Constitution, the approval or amendment of federal laws is entirely within the purview of the Russian Federation.
It is also perplexing that the ECHR has created preferences for US nationals, allowing them to appeal without exhausting all national legal recourse, which is mandatory for the rest of the parties to the European Convention on Human Rights.
The majority of the potential US adoptive parents, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed, were not registered with the official databank of children deprived of parental care, supervised by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. Neither did they submit appeals for adoption to Russian courts. This means that they did not even start the adoption procedure under the Russian legislation.
Arguments to the effect that the potential parents have evolved family ties with Russian children are groundless and premature and look like speculation. Many of those wishing to adopt only saw the child a few times or never.
Regrettably, the ECHR failed to take into account Russia’s arguments and awarded damages to the claimants. In all evidence, the plaintiffs were much more concerned with this purely mercantile factor than with their allegedly “awakened” feelings of parenthood. As we see it, US nationals’ actions have nothing in common with concern for the fate of Russian children.
According to the Russian Ministry of Justice, it will appeal to the ECHR Grand Chamber. We hope that the Court will take notice of Russia’s numerous arguments backed by concrete evidence and overturn the ruling.
We will monitor this case and continue cooperating with the Russian Ministry of Justice, the main agency in charge of ECHR contact.